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Jonathan Knutson, Forum News Service, Published September 27 2013

Size of US corn crop bodes well for livestock producers

Mike Landuyt’s cattle feedlot in Walnut Grove, Minn., sat empty for a month and a half this summer.

“Corn was so high and feeder cattle were so tight,” he says.

But corn prices have tumbled, and Landuyt is feeding cattle again.

Lower corn prices have made area livestock producers, especially ones with feeder animals, more optimistic this fall.

New-crop corn prices soared to more than $8 per bushel a year ago because of devastating drought in the Corn Belt.

This year, in contrast, U.S. corn production is estimated at a record 13.8 billion bushels. New-crop corn prices at area grain elevators surveyed weekly by Agweek have dropped to $4 to $4.50 per bushel.

Many livestock producers who feed corn say it’s premature to get too excited. Most of the U.S. corn crop isn’t harvested yet, and there’s concern that widespread dry conditions in the Corn Belt could cause the harvest to be smaller than expected.

“Yes, corn prices have dropped significantly. It’s been somewhat beneficial,” says Linda Hanson, who milks about 50 dairy cows with her family near Goodrich, Minn.

“But we have to get through the whole year to see where things go,” she says.

She notes that milk prices have dropped recently, as well.

Kevin Tyndall, a Cando, N.D., pork producer, says that while he naturally welcomes lower corn prices, he’s waiting to see if they last.